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New NICE guidance on common mental disorders: identification and pathways to care

This month the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published their new evidence-based clinical guideline on "Common mental disorders: identification and pathways to care".  The description reads "This clinical guideline offers evidence-based advice on the care and treatment of adults who have common mental health disorders, with a particular focus on primary care.  It brings together advice from existing guidelines and combines it with new recommendations on access to care, assessment and developing local care pathways for common mental health disorders.  Common mental health disorders include depression, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post‑traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder."

The 62 page guideline is available as a PDF and in Word format. It also comes as a 24 page "Quick reference guide" for health professionals, and as a 16 page "Getting help and support for common mental health problems" overview for the general public.  For those who really want to chew into the guideline there is a full 384 page version, 184 pages of supporting documents and an easily navigable web-based version of the guidance.  There are also a series of downloadable resources available to help organizations implement the guidance.

The associated press release comments that this new guideline " ... aims to help GPs provide quick, cost-effective treatment to improve the lives of millions of people experiencing common mental health disorders.  Common mental health disorders can affect up to 15% of the population at any one time. They account for one in five of all work days lost and cost UK employers £25bn each year. Common mental health disorders include depression, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder.  This new NICE guideline on the identification of and pathways to care for common mental health disorders focuses on primary care. It draws on existing NICE guidelines and makes new recommendations on how patients are assessed, and when and how they are referred to other services for treatment. The guideline also provides clear advice to managers and commissioners on how to develop referral and care pathways in their local area."

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners said: "GPs can see patients with two, three or four different conditions and while we have a myriad of guidance, it can be difficult to know where to start. The new NICE resource is really helpful as it lists the various common mental health disorders all on one page for easy reference and brings together existing guidelines.  It also gives advice on what to treat first, for example, if you have a patient with anxiety as well as depression.  We are really pleased that NICE is listening to GPs and producing practical guidance that can be easily adopted for the benefit of patients."  While Dr Olivia Carlton, President of the Society of Occupational Medicine, commented: "Mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sickness absence in the UK.  We need to remove the stigma associated with these conditions.  They are very common and many people will experience one or more periods of this type of illness during their life or live and work with others who are affected.  By following this new guidance we can reduce the economic cost and and personal suffering that these conditions cause."


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